Charles Francis (1924 – 2009) barrister, politician and pro-life advocate
Charles Francis was a great supporter of his fellow pro-lifers, keenly interested and encouraging of all they did for unborn children, unselfish in the legal assistance, speeches and advice he gave over many years.
Charles Francis grew up in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges in the township of Belgrave, where his father was the local doctor. Charles was sent to board at Camberwell Grammar and then to Melbourne Grammar.
After leaving school, he joined the RAAF and served as an air-gunner during World War II. He received a commission and, after the war, rose to the rank of group captain, later serving as deputy judge advocate general.
After the war, as a returned serviceman, Charles studied law, arts and commerce at Melbourne University and graduated in all three. He was admitted to the bar in 1948.
Charles continued a distinguished legal career at the Victorian Bar, which eventually spanned 53 years before he retired from practice at the age of 78. He took silk in 1969, was a member of the Bar Council and served as chairman in 1987-88.
Charles was also deeply interested in politics. In 1976 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the Liberal member for Caulfield. However, his parliamentary career lasted barely three years. He became disillusioned with the behaviour of the Liberals and refused to compromise on matters of principle. Charles and a fellow Liberal MP, Doug Jennings, criticised their government, under long-serving premier Sir Rupert “Dick” Hamer, for allegedly covering up corrupt land deals by the Housing Commission of Victoria. Charles thereafter aligned himself with the National Party in which he played an active part until the end of his life.
Denise Cameron, president of Pro-Life Victoria, paid tribute to the prominent role he played in the pro-life movement. She said: “Charles was a great supporter of his fellow pro-lifers, keenly interested and encouraging of all they did for unborn children, unselfish in the legal assistance, speeches and advice he gave over many years.
In the months before he died, Charles wrote a series of authoritative articles warning his fellow Australians about the dangers to religious freedom from misguided equal opportunity, racial and religious vilification laws and charters of rights. He believed that citizens’ freedoms were best protected, not by increasing the powers of our equal opportunity and human rights bureaucracies, but by re-discovering Australia’s Christian heritage.
In 1995, he addressed the Christian Lawyers’ Society, Melbourne, observing: “We often ask ourselves today why we have no great leaders. May I suggest the greatest leaders are not produced by political systems but rather by a deep and abiding Christian philosophy? We fail to honour – and risk forgetting – our Christian heritage at our peril.
Distinguished barrister, former parliamentarian and long-time champion of the unborn, Charles Francis AM QC RFD, died at 12 midday, Friday, August 14, aged 85.
Complete obituary – no longer online – previously at : http://www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2009sep05_.html
Refer also, Why Australia’s Christian heritage matters
Charles Francis, News Weekly, March 1, 2008
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